Beautiful art. It’s probably the last thing you expect to see while stopped bumper-to-bumper on your daily commute. But it’s exactly what Wendy Hickey had in mind when she first came up with the idea for ArtPop, a program that features local artists’ work on area billboards. She describes it as delivering a “private moment for people to engage with art” wherever they are.


By featuring the work on billboards, ArtPop connects those who are unfamiliar with the art scene directly to local artists. The idea is that seeing the art while going about their daily activities, like driving to work, inspires people to learn more about the art being created in their area. ArtPop not only inspires trips to galleries but also creates commerce for featured artists. “Local artists tend to be a secret in their own community”, Hickey says, adding that she wants to “be the voice” that helps get the word out about the talent next door.


In 2014, Hickey partnered with the Arts & Science Council and Adams Outdoor Advertising of Charlotte to make ArtPop a reality, and ever since, artwork can be seen all around town. See here for a live map of where you can find the 2016 features before they’re replaced with the 2017 artists. Beyond Charlotte, ArtPop can be found on the streets of 11 different cities with four new additions in the new year.


Last week, the Charlotte winners selected to have their art featured in 2017 were chosen. Fifteen were chosen by a jury of experts and five decided on by public vote. The installations will begin in January.


Multiple artists are from the Lake Norman area, let us do the honor of an introduction.

Micah Cash
Concord, NC
Oil on canvas
Micah Cash examines how land use, landscapes, and their social histories influence cultural geography. Themes of ownership, demarcation, and utilization are explored through painting and photography. He received his MFA from the University of Connecticut and his BFA from the University of South Carolina. He exhibits nationally and is locally represented by Sozo Gallery. His paintings and photographs have been featured most recently in The Bitter SouthernerFraction MagazineNinth LetterAint-Bad MagazinePlaces JournalThe Charlotte Observer, and Charlotte Magazine. His first book, Dangerous Waters: A Photo Essay on the Tennessee Valley Authority, will be published by University of Tennessee Press in the fall of 2017.

Justin Christenbery
Cornelius, NC
Acrylic painting on canvas



Mark Doepker
Huntersville, NC
Prismacolor (colored pencil)



Diane Pike
Denver, NC
Oil on canvas



Nicholas Sorlien
Statesville, NC
Cast concrete


Nicholas Sorlien’s love of industrial spaces began early on during a  childhood spent in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Tulsa, Oklahoma.  After earning his BFA from Oklahoma State University, he became part of an artist community in St. Paul, Minnesota.  It’s location, in an old seven-story combat boot factory, inspired a new direction in his work; creating installations rather than singular objects.  But it was a move to Hattiesburg, Mississippi one year later that merged his interest in abandoned spaces and materials with his desire to fill them with metaphor.  He founded and directed an artist’s studio, called the BluHous Workspace, in a run down hotel with the mission of forming an independent space for artists to both create and exhibit their work.

In 2002 he earned his MFA from Massachusetts College of Art.  During that time, he became focused on using his art to give voice to social and political concerns  and organized a lecture series called The Artist’s Role in Effecting Social Change.  After graduation, Sorlien moved to North Carolina where he presently teaches in the Department of Art at Appalachian State University.  He has shown his work at the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Bakalar and Huntington Galleries in Boston and various other schools, galleries, abandoned warehouses and public space throughout the United States.


Renee Calder
Huntersville, NC


Renee Calder lives in in Huntersville, NC.  She studied jewelry design at the Jewelry Arts Institute in NY as a goldsmith with a focus on Byzantine and Etruscan techniques, including gold granulation, classical chain-making and classical settings. Upon moving to NC, she discovered the rich and varied ceramics community with class/workshop opportunities.  As she began to learn the possibilities of working with clay, she became more intrigued with incorporating textures and found objects into her work bringing to life what has been discarded or overlooked in both metal and clay. Recent ceramics reflect the fusion of texture and design similar to her one of a kind jewelry pieces. 

Her work has been showcased in galleries in North Carolina, California, New York, Connecticut and Illinois. It is a reflection of the diversity of the world around us.  Renee strives to bring personality into each piece – to engage the viewer with the unexpected. She focuses mostly on the combination of materials, where the mundane becomes something more, engaging the viewer to take a second look and see things in a different way.  She wants to challenge our notions of the use of materials and prompt a new perception of ordinary things that surround us.




Joshua Cross
Concord, NC
Mixed media painting


Born and raised in Cape Girardeau, MO, it was your typical Midwestern upbringing : Mom, Dad, Sister, the occasional dog, and getting stuffed in the dryer by his Brother.  For Joshua there was never that “from an early age I always knew I wanted to be and artist” moment.  It’s more about stories – – seeking and finding connections between random elements, juxtaposing images to create new connections and embracing the process. “I think of my pieces as visual games of word association and illustrations for stories that have yet to be written”, he says.
Take popular culture, ephemera, animation, pulp literature, non-fiction, and the feeling you get when you look at an abandoned billboard, mix it all together – – that is his starting point.

Joshua earned a BA in 2D Studio Art from Southeast Missouri State University and my MFA (Painting) from Kansas State University.  For 17 years he has been doing what he can to pass along the creative process to all ages whether it be in higher ed, workshops in prisons, residencies or after school programs.  Since 2005 he have been an art professor at Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, NC. Joshua’s partner in crime is his wife Britt and sidekick is Daisy the Wiener Dog (aka – Princess Squiggle Bottoms). More work can be found on his website – –



Below find the names and work of all Charlotte area selections:

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